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The Illustrated History of Quick Change – A proposed book project

I began working on this book project in the early 1970’s..probably around 1973. I have a letter from famed magician/historian Jay Marshall dated 1978. I had inquired to see if he had any ‘quick change’ material I could use for my research.

Letter from Jay Marshall

I had basically given up on the project in late 1981 and put all my research in a box. Dishearted by the lack of awareness people had about this act. It seemed like I was one of maybe 50 people that knew what the ‘Quick Change‘ act was.

I just found this box of research in my storage unit! Almost 35 year later! It is massive! I worked on the book for quite a few years. Contacting libraries and archives all over the world to obtain photographs/letters/articles/reviews about these artists during their ‘heyday’ in the vaudeville times.

Palace Theater Program

Here is the program from The Palace Theater in May of 1913. The 6th act (F) on the program is quick change artist Owen McGiveney.

Notice the 4th act on the bill is W.C Fields. Quick change artist shared the bill with some outstanding performers in their time.

As you can see from this photograph my research didn’t only include quick change. Here is a photograph of the ‘future site of the Palace Theater‘.

img005“On This Site Will be Erected THE PALACE THEATRE”

One of the many quick-change artists that were performing in vaudeville was ‘The Great La Follette“.

The Great La Follette

I am posting a few items from my research. I am beginning work on a book.

Quick Change in American Vaudeville

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Here is an artist rendering of the great Proctor’s 23rd Street Theatre.

Proctor's 23rd Street Theatre

Proctor’s 23rd Street Theatre (previously located between 6th and 7th Avenue)

Here are a few of my previous Vaudevisual postings on Quick Change.

Michael McGiveney

Mr. Hymack – Quentin McPhearson

The Great Lafayette

Henri DeVries


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Here is a YouTube video made from film transfer of Owen McGiveney in 1928. 

Here is a YouTube video of his son Michael McGiveney doing his father’s act on the TV show “I’ve Got a Secret” in 1950.

(Michael used his father’s name with Jr. in the beginning of his ‘quick change’ career. More about that in my book!)

Here is a recent (Feb 2016) Ted talk in Pompeii by the wonderful Italian Quick Change artist Arturo Brachetti.

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Photography Quick Change Artists Variety Arts

Vaudeville’s Quick Change Acts – MR HYMACK – One of the Best!

In this series I will be profiling a few of American Vaudeville’s impressive Quick Change Artist.

This art form is not really known to today’s audiences. It was a big success back in the early 1900’s.

One of the most interesting and off beat QC artist was an englishman who went by the name MR. HYMACK.

Born Quentin McPhearson in 1870 in Middlesex, London.

Here is a newspaper clipping from The Brooklyn Eagle dated Dec. 20, 1907

His act did very well in American. He was referred to as “The Chameleon Comedian”. Here is a review from Variety dated  Jan 25. 1909

He is recorded as having performed at the Bristol Hippodrome in May  1913.

It is understood that his ‘trick flower’ was passed onto Cardini and was used in his act for many years.

Since these artists were not recorded on video or film during their ‘heyday’ it is difficult to really understand how their act was constructed.

According to IMDB he appeared in many films in made in the UK between 1931 and 1939 including ‘Storm in a Teacup’ with Rex Harrison and Vivian Leigh.

Directed by Victor Saville

Quentin McPhearson (Mr. Hymack) died at the age of 69 in 1940.

One of the few remaining Quick Change artist performing today is the Italian Arturo Brachetti.

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